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Feeling bored by healthy food this month? We're on a mission to get everyone out of their healthy eating rut with our series of fun, flavourful and cheap healthy recipes!
Is it just us, or can diet-friendly, healthy food sometimes be a bit …. well …. uninspiring? Endless piles of salad, carrot sticks, cottage cheese and soup. Well, because it's February and everyone's feeling a bit flat (we call it the hump-month), we've been on the look-out for healthy recipes that are fun, colourful and packed full of flavour. This week we bring you the veggie burger! As our blogger Linda mentioned last week, veggie burgers are a great way to up your veg intake (this one is packed with 5 different vegetables), they're a low-fat option compared to meat burgers, and they're cheaper too! We think we're on to a winner with this one.
Before you turn away in disgust, we know, we know – veggie burgers can be the ultimate in disappointing, uninspiring healthy food. Tasteless lumps of mushy potatoes stuck through with mystery vegetables. But this veggie burger is different – it is the ultimate! It is packed with 5 different vegetables (that can be varied according to what you have the in the cupboard), it has TEXTURE and most importantly it TASTES GOOD.
It does have a fair few ingredients, but all are low-cost and can be varied according to whatever you have left over. Any sort of root vegetable can be exchanged for the carrots (we've tried it with beetroot, parsnips, swede and celeriac in various combinations and all of them work nicely). Try different types of beans too. The recipe calls for black beans, but if you can't find them try kidney, borlotti, haricot, chickpeas, anything you like! And instead of cooking the rice from scratch, why not just use the leftover rice from last night's curry? The raw patties can also be frozen, then popped straight into the oven at a later date for a quick meal. We're big fans of batch-cooking, so this recipe makes quite a few, but if you only want to make one meal's worth, halve the recipe.
Best-Ever Veggie Burgers Makes about 8-10 patties
What You Need
4 large carrots (bake them in foil for about an hour until tender and a knife slides in easily.)
1/2 cup brown rice (or 1 cup of leftover boiled rice)
2 onions, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons vinegar
1/4 cup porridge oats (If you don't have any, substitute breadcrumbs, or plain flour)
2 cans black beans (or any other type of bean)
1 teaspoon oil
2-3 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons mustard
1 tablespoon barbecue sauce
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 large egg
Salt and pepper
Burger sauce (I made mine mixing 1tsp of ketchup with 1tsp of extra-light mayo)
1. Cook the rice
If you haven't got any leftover rice get it boiling while you put everything else together. Bring 2 cups of water to the boil in a small saucepan. Salt the water and add the rice. Reduce to a simmer and cook the rice a little longer than you usually would (around 35-40 mins for brown rice). You want it to be a little over-cooked, but not too mushy. Drain and set aside to cool.
2. While the rice is cooking, begin frying the onions
Heat a teaspoon of oil in a frying-pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and a pinch of salt. Stirring the onions every minute or two, cook until they're golden and charred around the edges (approx 10 mins).
3. Add the garlic
Fry for another 30 seconds. Pour in the cider vinegar and scrape up any crust that has developed on the bottom of the pan. Simmer until the pan is nearly dry then remove from the heat.
4. Drain and rinse the beans
Transfer to a large bowl. Mash with a fork until you have a textured mush with some completely disintegrated and some whole beans.
5. Grate the carrots (or whatever cooked roots you're using)
Grate the carrots using a coarse grater. Press through a sieve over the sink to remove as much liquid as possible.
6. Combine the mix
Add the carrots, cooked rice and fried onions to the beans. Add the mustard, BBQ sauce, paprika, cumin, coriander, thyme. Taste the mixture and add more salt if needed. Then add the porridge oats and the egg and mix until fully combined.
7. Refrigerate the burgers
Cover the bowl and refrigerate the burger mixture - this helps the patties to stay together when cooked. It can be skipped if necessary, but it does improve the texture if you have time. Ideally, refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. The mix can also be kept in the fridge for up to 3 days before cooking.
8. Shape the burgers
Time to get your hands mucky! When ready to cook, shape them into patties. Scoop up a handful of the mixture and roughly shape it into a thick patty the size of your buns.
9. Cook the burgers
Heat a frying pan over high heat. If using a non-stick pan, you don't necessarily even need oil, but a small brush of oil across the surface of the pan will help to stop the burgers sticking. Cook the patties for 2 minutes on each side: a nice crust should develop.
Watch this space for more healthy recipe blogs in the coming weeks! And why not share your veggie burger pictures and recipes with us on Facebook and Instagram? Use the handle @achieveoxfordshire. We'd love to see what you've been cooking!